The introduction of the steam engine was a great boon to folk who lived a distance from urban areas, and rural dwellers in the Pioneer Valley took full advantage of the service provided in 1885 when the first trains ran to Mackay from Draper's siding (near Eton) with a branch line from Newbury Junction to Hamilton on the banks of the Pioneer River. The township which grew up around the railway terminus there became known as Merani (today called Mirani). Later, the line was extended to Netherdale at the foot of the Eungella Range, with minor branch lines.
|Paget Junction just after its opening in 1915|
No longer were people faced with a long ride into town by horse and buggy and a probable overnight stay. Older children now had the opportunity of continuing on to secondary school without having to board in town. The train left early in the morning, arriving at Mackay about 10 am, and left about 3 pm. Little stations were sprinkled along the line; for example, there were nine of them from Walkerston to the Tennyson Street terminus. However, for many years yet, travellers to Brisbane, Townsville or other far away places were still dependent upon coastal steamers.
Discussion to link the coastal towns with a railway system went on for years before the scheme came to fruition. In Mackay, the first sod was turned by the local member, Mr. Walter Trueman Paget in 1911. Few in the huge crowd of onlookers at the auspicious occasion doubted the honourable Member's words that the coastal railway would soon be a reality. It was an ambitious forecast considering the great distances involved and the low population of Queensland.
The line from Brisbane reached Rockhampton early in the century, and ten years after the first sod was turned in Mackay, with a World War in between, passengers could at last travel to the southern capital by train. Work had proceeded from both the north and south and on September 24, 1921, the last link was joined at Clairview, south of Sarina with appropriate ceremony.
Meanwhile, extensions continued northward from Mackay. The Pioneer River rail bridge had been started in 1913 and the line to Farleigh opened in 1918. The final link in the line connecting all the coastal towns to Brisbane was made at Proserpine in 1923.
a new railway station in Boddington Street to replace the original one in Tennyson Street was opened in 1924. In 1989 work began on relocating the rail line out of the city area and a new station built in Connors Road, Paget was opened in 1994.
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© Mackay Historical Society and Museum
created 12 August 2004.
last updated 09 August, 2006 .
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